I want my table to be a place of love, warmth and fun. I want them to remember the wonderful moments they had at the table, spending quality time with family or quiet times with the Lord. When they get older and move out I want them to long to come sit at our table again. We can help make this happen by making sure these 7 things are a regular part of your table-time.
1. Playing: One thing I realize is that I am very quick to sit on the couch - but once I’m there I’m practically useless. It’s harder for me to jump up if my kids need me and it’s easier to get lazy and become irritable if I have to get up. Though when I choose to sit at the dining table I am more likely to be productive and interactive. And more likely to have fun with the kids. We keep a deck of cards on the table and will sometimes have a quick game of cards. Or the kids will join me at the table and draw while I work on my laptop.
I’d rather my kids remember me as someone who sat at the table being somewhat productive - and engaged - rather than someone who was always on the couch checking facebook on my phone or watching Netflix on tv.
2. Eating: Well, Obviously, eating happens at the table. But when you bring food to the table what else do you bring? I know I often come to the table stressed out and moody. Mostly because of the healthy and massive meal that I am trying to make for the 6 hungry people that I have to feed. But that’s not how I want my kids to remember me. They’d much rather have a mom who is calm and kind…. and putting a microwave dinner on the table - than a mom who is stressed and annoyed putting a 5 course meal down. Their favorite meals are the fun simple ones. Sometimes it’s not at the dining table but a picnic at the coffee table. Sometimes I spend less time on the actual food and more time setting a fun table, lighting candles and putting out little notes or discussion questions under their plates. See my list of easy, fun (and funny) meal ideas.
So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Don't tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble.
-[Rom 14:19-20 NLT]
3. Connecting: When sitting for a meal, stop everything! No phone, no worrying about the dishes. Look at the people sitting at your table and think of ways to interact with them. Ask about their day, the best part, the worst part. Be excited about what they are excited about. Click here for conversation starter ideas.
4. Encouraging: Think of one way to encourage your family members at each meal. Sometimes it just is saying “ I love this family, we have the best family ever, or I love to spend time with you!” Mealtime is a great time to pour life into your family.
5. Praying: Of course it’s good to pray for your food and give thanks before your meal. But sometimes it’s good to spend time after you eat (when you are not distracted by your hunger) to pray together. Pray for others, pray for your family and spend time giving thanks for all you have. You don’t have to make it formal, sometimes I just ask the kids what they are thankful for or ask what they are going through, eyes open.. I know God hears us! See “3 ways to make prayer more engaging.”
6. Devotions: One thing I like to do at some point during the day, anytime, is sit and read my bible and write in my prayer journal. When my kids were little they were seeing that spending time with the Lord was important to me - even if they distracted me a lot! And as they get older I ask them to join me. I actually made up some journals for them to work on as I work on mine. They are learning how to spend quality time with the Lord which is a wonderful thing. Click here to order journals for you and your kids.
7. Creativity: Sometimes I get brave and tell my kids, “No screen time today” and they usually find themselves at the dining table. And they actually love it, well, once they get over the screen time thing. I heard once that “boredom leads to creativity” and I see that happening here at my table. They get out the paper and draw, paint, write stories. Sometimes it’s really messy, sometimes it’s loud, but it’s always beautiful.
Easy & Fun (and pretty funny) Dinner Ideas.
I asked my friends what they serve their family when they don't feel like making anything. Here's some of my favorite responses. Hope you get a good laugh and feel better about what you serve. Remember focus on quality time with your family and say goodbye to stress (every once and a while!)
"Plain pasta (like penne) or plain chicken served with an egg carton filled with all different dipping sauces like ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, etc (surprisingly my kids liked teriyaki sauce with their pasta the best 😆)'
"Everyone went to Big Lots or Dollar General and picked their own soup
(ramen, spaghettio's, cup o’noodle)"
"Lunch meat rollups with veggies & dip"
"Bagel or English muffin pizzas"
"Microwaved chicken nuggets and applesauce"
"Instant oatmeal - Cream of wheat"
"Ramen noodles with mayo and hot sauce"
"Crackers with melted cheese and sauce"
" “Snack party”. It’s exactly what it sounds like 😂. Crackers, cheese, carrots and dip, pepperoni and whatever else I can dig up and throw on a blanket in the living room. My secret weapon when my husband works nights 😂. My kids think it’s the greatest thing ever."
"I make one heck of a buttered noodle that the kids choose to put ketchup on. My daughter calls it lazy pasta."
"I want to give my children each a bag of goldfish and two go-gurts a piece. I'll never forget it because I went to bed feeling like a failure and they thought it was the most wonderful dinner ever."
" I wanted to make nachos but didn't have ground beef or black beans. I just had a can of baked beans. So they were literally just tortilla chips with baked beans and cheese melted on top. I felt like a complete failure, but after dinner Wesley hugged me and told me that it was the best dinner he ever had."
"One time my husband burned the bottom of a frozen pizza, so cooked pasta, scraped the top off of the pizza and made 'pizza pasta'... they always ask for this now!"
" 'make your own pizza" using bread and any leftovers were fair game as a pizza toppings, including goldfish crackers and Kraft Mac n cheese..."
"Fried chicken from grocery store with the salad kits in a bag is dinner tonight"
"Hot dogs, ramen, and carrot sticks. (complete meal!)"
"I made bagels. By “made” I mean I toasted bagels."
"Popsicles and popcorn (whole grain!)"
"S’mores. For dinner."
"Corn chips & bean salsa"
9 friends said ice cream for dinner!
(one with toast because it seems healthier) (One with fresh fruit - same reason) (one said with frozen waffles if they are feeling extra motivated)
17 friends said cereal! I guess that's the winner.